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Over the past year, Jason Derulo has teased us with singles from Talk Dirty and the time has finally come that we can get our hands on the full album. From beginning to end, this album is filled with hits and features some killer collaborations with 2 Chainz, Snoop Dogg, & Tyga just to name a few. For those of you with a love for sweet dance beats (like myself), this is your candy. Choreographers everywhere will be anxious to create some great moves & performances to this album.

Not to be overlooked, there are some beautiful R&B ballads on here as well, including “Vertigo”, sung with girlfriend Jordin Sparks. Derulo has been quoted to say that this is a very honest album and the lyrics do not lie. While being a very entertaining album, there is a vulnerabilty and realness that can be felt when listening to the words to songs like “Marry Me”. This album proves that Derulo is a very talented young man and will be around for a long time.

One thing that I definitely appreciate about this album is that his voice does not sound overproduced or edited. It has a very real, live feel to it, almost as if he went into the studio, recorded the vocal tracks and told them to skip out on the after effects. With all the overpolished music out there today, its really refreshing to see a younger artist that doesn’t use technology as a crutch for his career. I would love to see a live acoustic album to focus on the true beauty and natural talent of his voice.

With the release of Talk Dirty, hopefully that means there will be a supporting tour announced soon and we can get a first hand feel of how great these songs are live. One thing is for sure, this album will be on all of my summer playlists. - Envy

The acquisition of music – especially good music – has never been easier. Whether it’s your favorite band’s new album or an amazing track you just discovered on Spotify – just download and listen. Add to that the reduction of nearly every obstacle that separates producer and consumer and there’s virtually no reason you can’t have the exact music you want the exact moment you want it. It may have taken a little while for the music industry as a whole to catch up with 21st century technology – but now there’s no turning back.

There is something else though. Something altogether different. Something that’s raw, and pure, and has remained essentially unchanged – the rock show. Sure, there may be more lights, and more theatrics – but the rock show experience is not changing any time soon. And that is exactly what made the sweat-drenching, ear-shattering combination of Taking Back Sunday, The Used, and Tonight Alive such an incredible evening of music.

Tonight Alive, the Sydney-based 5-piece may be from Australia, but you might not know it since they are always on tour. I was fortunate enough to see Tonight Alive on their very first US tour a few years ago, supporting Forever The Sickest Kids, where I found them to be a group of incredibly talented teenagers with an infinite amount of energy bounding around the stage. Now? Well, now, they’re a group of young twenty-somethings with that same never ending source of energy. The band takes their lead from singer/front-woman extraordinaire Jenna McDougall – who I spotted jumping up and down before she even took the stage – and didn’t let up throughout their 30 minute set.


Tonight Alive’s Jenna McDougall and Cam Adler

McDougall, whose voice is deeper and much more gravely than it was a few years ago, has an impressively veteran-like stage presence for someone so young. The band’s performance was stellar from beginning to end, never taking too long between songs – only taking the time to thank the audience or to introduce the occasional song, including their closer, “Lonely Girl”, one of their biggest songs to date, which caused the crowd to go expectedly bonkers. As good as Tonight Alive is on your iPod, they are so much more powerful in person – do not miss them if they’re anywhere anytime ever.

After the stage crew expertly dismantled and packed away all of Tonight Alive’s equipment, there was an eerie glow about the stage. By the time the dust literally settled, the crowd had been not-so-slowly working themselves into a frenzy. One by one by one – drummer, bass player, and guitarist – members of The Used took the stage. Meanwhile, Bert McCracken stood offstage, calmly smoking one last cigarette. When he did finally take the stage, the crowd erupted. Make no mistake about it – The Used fans are LOUD.


The Used’s Jeph Howard and Bert McCracken

The first half of their set went by blisteringly fast. McCracken finally took a breath, and very graciously thanked everyone in attendance for their continued support of the band – the reason the band is still around and making music today. What followed was one of the most exciting 15 minutes of live music I’ve ever seen. Back-to-back renditions of “I Caught Fire”, “The Taste of Ink”, and “All That I’ve Got” cranked up the sold-out-crowd’s energy level to 11. The hands-down highlight of the show came during the breakdown section of “The Taste of Ink”. Without any hesitation, or urging, the crowd quickly and collectively sang out the pattern of repeated choruses – all the while McCracken could do nothing but smile, happily joining in himself about halfway through. His voice produces a visceral effect inside of you – from the loudest and raspiest of screams to the smoothest of melodies – you cannot help but sing, and scream, and simply just, be.

I was surprised to see some of the crowd leave after The Used – though I think that’s to be expected when a show is billed with “co-headlining” acts – but all it created was a little more breathing room by the time Taking Back Sunday came on. This core 5, having been reunited now for a few years, continues to impress. Speaking of bands I saw way back when – the first time I saw TBS, it was in a venue made out of a converted barn in upstate New York, while they were on tour supporting their first album, Tell All Your Friends. That album captures that beautiful moment in time, yet it is all but unrecognizable to me at this point. There has been so much change, so much upheaval – yet somehow they’ve come out the other side so much better for it.


Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara and John Nolan

Lead singer Adam Lazzara does not simply just sing – he performs. Not content to merely stand still, his movements are more akin to a butterfly – floating and fluttering from spot to spot, move to move. The crowd fed off of his energy every step of the way, singing back at every opportunity – producing the smile you see above from Lazzara. Taking Back Sunday has never been a band to fit in with the norm, or what’s expected – regardless of who was in the band at the time – their unique sound still resonates with the same passion more than 10 years after they got their start.

All three of these acts firmly stamped the rock in rock show – performing up to, and feeding off, the crowd for the 3+ hours – never letting up for an instant. This was a night I won’t soon forget.


Stay tuned to Emo At Heart for full-size versions of our photos from the show.

(Words by Josh, Photos by Envy. Show date: 4/11/14)

Despite all odds, Shonen Knife, a 3-piece female, Japanese rock band, has been making music for 33 years now. Popularized in the U.S. during the early 90’s largely in part to Kurt Cobain’s praise, the band has consistently put out records every 2 to 3 years since ’91. They’re new album Overdrive, set to be released on Good Charamel Records (see Josh’s interview with Label Master Robby Takac), is just the right amount of guitar licks and girly lyrics for a former Donnas fan like me.

Led by the sole original member Naoko Yamano (lead vocals/guitar), Shonen Knife’s latest effort remains true to who they are and their influences. The album is simple, gritty, silly, and addictive. Clean guitar solos, consistent vocals with basic harmonies, strumming base lines; this album has no frills. But it does have “Robots From Hell”, a darker track from the record worth mentioning for its subject matter alone.

Let go of your need for meaning and embrace Overdrive. This album has earned a spot in rotation on my beach playlist because it’s just that fun. Take one listen to “Dance to the Rock” and you’ll see what I mean.

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I feel its also worth mentioning that Naoko is now 53-years old, leading me to believe that enjoying some solid rock songs about ramen and green tea might just keep you young. - Kat

Barefoot and Pregnant, the 5th studio album by L.A.’s The Dollyrots has been released and it is my first official entry into my “Best of 2014” competition. There isn’t a skippable track on this pop-punk gem - it really is that good. Especially if you have a thing for lady-led pop punk - which I do.

The album kicks off with the invitation to “Come and Get It” which blends super fun pop melodies with a rock n roll, Joan Jett-y punk beat. Kelly Ogden, who pulls double duty playing bass as well as singing lead vocals, has got the perfect set of pipes and just nails the cute and sassy in every song. The real life couple really shows you what they got as guitarist Luis Cabezas and his excellent punk rock guitar work are showcased on songs like “Stupidly In Love”, “First World Anarchist” and “Get Weird” . The fun, lyrical style and organic rawness is blended so well on tracks like “Barefoot and Pregnant” and “Worstie”, which are probably two of my favorites on the album.

Every track is filled with so much energy and they just make you wanna get up and move and they all lend themselves so well to the next track. The sweet love song “Nightlight” is sweet and charming and will be a staple on many a playlist this year. I have made time to listen to this record multiple times since I got  my hands on it and I seriously can’t find a thing wrong with it.

If you like bands like The Muffs, The Sounds, Jack Off Jill, or Go Betty Go you should definitely add this to your record pile…or playlist, however the kids are doing it these days.

And if what I am telling you doesn’t do it for ya, you can check out the video they just released for the title track, which is uber-cute and was filmed while Ogden was pregnant and about to burst with the couple’s first child. Congrats to the happy family :-) - Tracy

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Breaking news: Singer-songwriter wears heart on sleeve. If that sounds clichéd to you, it’s not without reason. There’s no shortage of acoustic solo - or mostly solo - acts these days and it can be difficult to separate the contenders from the pretenders. Thankfully - for all of us - Divided Heaven’s sophomore album, Youngblood, out now on Say 10 Records, rings the bell loud and clear.

Divided Heaven is the creation of Jeff Berman. If that name doesn’t sound familiar, there’s a good chance you’ve seen him - or one of the many bands he’s been involved with (Protagonist and The Boils, to name a few) - at a venue or Warped Tour stage near you. While this album is a mostly acoustic, full-band effort (the band’s first), Berman’s moody, punk roots are never are never far.

With a vocal style ranging from Chris Conley to Matt Pryor to Mitch Allan, the highlights for me are “Melissa Militia” (check out the video below), “Gin”, and “Mass Ave” - which opens with Berman in haunting a cappella fasion.

With a tour underway in the Southeast US, followed by a west coast swing, then a couple of week’s on this year’s Warped Tour as part of the Acoustic Basement Stage - there will be no shortage of Berman and co sightings for the forseeable future - don’t miss ‘em. - J.

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…Of Sinking Ships started as something that wasn’t really meant to be anything - but turned into a lot more. That’s the perfect way to describe this album, The Amaranthine Sea, just released on Broken Circles Records, which is the first formal instrumental effort from Chad Waldrup (ex-Hopesfall), Tim Cossor (ex-HRVRD) and an elusive guy name Ethan Rice.

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It never hits those epic highs of Explosions in the Sky or the smooth lows of American Football, but seems to explore all the space in between. As it’s title would lead you to believe, the album ebbs and flows much like the tide. There are stormy moments right along with blinding, sunny spots of clarity. The album comes close to the edge of a mosh-able breakdown and pulls you back with a cathedral-like procession. It’s a beautiful collaboration of sound, even if it’s not highly innovative or truly memorable.

Recommended for those who like instrumental albums, need lyric-less music to focus on work, like to space out on a long drive, or anyone who has glow-in-the-dark constellations on their ceiling, pillaging pirates with an emotional side. - Kat

NYC’s Love Crushed Velvet have just released the video for their track, “Bye Bye Baby”, off of their latest EP, Delusions, released last fall.

With inspiration coming from bands like Joy Division, U2, and The Rolling Stones, LCV have crafted a sound entirely and uniquely their own.

Enjoy!

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Far too often have I seen bands come back from a period of inactivity with utterly disappointing results. Nothing is worse than your favorite band comes back from the grave just to bum you out with their new music. On the other hand, one of the best feelings in the world is when a band I’ve loved for a long time comes back and puts out awesome new music. Chicago punk legends The Lawrence Arms have emerged once again to drop their sixth full length, Metropole. There is nothing disappointing about it! It’s the saddest album that just can’t bum me out no matter how hard it tries.

While Metropole may be a little more mellow than this trio’s previous releases, the same amount of heart and devotion are apparent. For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Lawrence Arms, they have a very recognizable brand of dual vocal songs that highlight the disappointing feelings of growing up and losing love from your life. While pretty much every song is a sad one, they are all very human and relatable.

Somewhere buried in their catchy riffs and gritty vocals in a glimmer of hope that makes you feel good as you relate to the existential hardships of Metropole. This is a very solid album and I would not sleep of this one. - Rob G

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Canada has produced numerous great punk rock bands in the last few decades. PUP is the latest band to step in and continue this tradition with the upcoming US release of their new self-titled debut album. Though the album has already come out in Canada on Royal Mountain Records, it was the one - the only - SideOneDummy Records that stepped in to sign and release the band’s material in the US.

PUP has a strong reputation for being a super energetic and thunderously loud live band. Legendary producer Dave Shiffman (Rage Against The Machine, Weezer) was brought in to do the record and early on decided to make a bold move. After catching the band live, he put them all in a studio room together and said “Just play the songs like you would play them live.” What resulted is exactly what the band, David, and PUP fans wanted to hear. The band’s best live show ever, immortalized.

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Overall, this album reminds me of a raw Japandroids coupled with the freight-train energy of The Bronx. Between the wonderfully complicated lead guitar parts, melodic backing vocals, and slightly odd - yet poppy - time signatures, this album never lets up and always buckles down. Standout tracks on the album include “Reservoir”, “Never Try”, and “Lionheart.”

PUP’s hard work has not only been increasing their fan base exponentially, it has also attracted the attention of prominent Toronto rockers F*@#ed Up and Billy Talent. Both bands are taking PUP on separate tours in 2014. All of these factors considered, get into PUP now, ‘cause the ride is only going to get wilder. - Brendan

SXSW 2014 may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t plenty to talk about. We reconnected with Lime Cordiale to get their thoughts on what went down in Austin.

We asked Oli what his one big takeaway was from this year’s SXSW:

You have a week to get messy at SXSW, but we managed to go a little too hard on the first night. Free booze and Lime Cordiale doesn’t mix well. I think the realization that thousands of bands would be playing all day everyday for a week got us a little too excited. So it was easy to convince Louis that a crappy tattoo of a trumpet on his bum was a great idea. That’s a memory that won’t be leaving his behind.


Oli and Co., hanging out - and rocking out - in Austin.

Thanks Oli!

Stay tuned to Emo At Heart for interviews, reviews, photos, and more!

The Goo Goo Dolls, not set to rest on the laurels of there more-than-two decades of success, are about to set out on an acoustic tour of the east coast and mid-west. The tour, called The Otis Midnight Sessions, will feature stripped-down versions of songs from their extensive catalog. If you can’t make it out to one of these intimate events, fear not, the band will be back on the road this summer for a co-headlining tour with American Idol alum Chris Daughtry.

Before they hit the road, Goo Goo Dolls co-founder and bassist Robby Takac was kind enough to chat with us about their upcoming touring schedule, the band’s successes, and giving back to the community.

What was the inspiration for this upcoming acoustic tour?
It was something John’s been talking about forever. We’re lucky enough to have some big songs in the mid-90s that were acoustic-based, and we always talked about how great it would be to try this. We’re all so busy making records and doing tours and it just never really found it’s moment. We had just finished a Canadian run after really long summer and fall tours, and we felt like it was a great time to make some kind of change for a little chunk of time before we set out on another summer tour – it was time to do something a little bit different.

Are you looking forward to playing in smaller venues?
Yeah, it fits the nature of what we’re doing. We sold the tickets first through our fan club sites and then opened the tickets up and most of them have sold out pretty quickly – I think the largest venue is only about 900 seats, most are around 400-500.

The Goo Goo Dolls have been consistently successful for quite some time – to what do you attribute that long-term success?
It’s two things. Obviously you need to have some songs if you’re talking about radio success – that stations are willing to plan. If you’re talking about band success – songs that people can really latch on to. I think you also need the chemical balance that happens in a band to be correct, you need to be brave enough to do the things you need to do to make sure your band can still hang on and be around. If you lose that desire, then you can have all the songs you want and the band’s not gonna function. We’ve been lucky enough to have that balance, and I hope we can keep that going.

Your 10th studio album, Magnetic, was released last year. Is the process of “making a Goo Goo Dolls album” engrained in you at this point, or has that process changed and evolved over time?
There was a process, and we sort of broke out of that for this record for the first time. Normally we would lock ourselves up and do demos and have 15 songs that are half-finished or three-quarters-finished and bring them in to a producer to start working on them, then sit underneath this pile of 15 almost-done songs for 3-, 4-, 5 months. That was pretty much our process.

This record, we did it a bit differently. John decided he wanted to do a bit more writing with the producers who were going to work on the songs with us. So he’d go off and work on a song a little bit, and when he thought it was in the right place, he’d call us in, we’d play a little bit – maybe work on one or two songs, and finish them. Then John would go work on a few more songs, we’d meet up again, finish those as well. There was a lot less tension in the making of this record and I think it really sounds that way. I don’t think it feels as heavy-hearted as the last couple records did.

Your co-headliner for your upcoming summer tour, Chris Daughtry, rose to popularity through American Idol – which has produced a number of commercially successful artists – Do you think shows like American Idol and The Voice set a reasonable expectation level for what it takes to get in to the music industry?
It seems to be a pretty common process now. I think at one point, people didn’t really know what to do when they won those shows. A lot of those guys didn’t really do too much afterwards. I think Chris did a really great job transforming that whole thing in to something real for himself – I really gotta hand it to him.

We came up through a different channel than that. We drove around in a van with no expectations for many, many years before we even got to a point where it seemed like there was a possibility that what we did would be popular. It’s a different way of making it happen. Once you get in to the public eye like he did, you gotta see if you can back it up – and he has.

Ralph Wilson, the longtime, and only, owner of your hometown Buffalo Bills, passed away just a few days ago. Can you give us an idea of what he meant to that community, the city, and how he’ll be missed?
I’ve never been much of a sports guy, but you know I’m from Buffalo – so of course if you asked me if I was a Bills fan I would have to tell you yes. We’ve always heard in Buffalo that he was the reason we still had a team there, so we’ll have to see what happens. People love the Bills in Buffalo, so hopefully they’ll work it all out.

Finally, your organization Music Is Art, has been active in Buffalo for a long time – can you tell us a little about what the organizations means to you, and what you hope for its future?
Music Is Art does work in the schools and communities in the Buffalo area, and tries to promote music and arts in the schools and in general. We have a festival every year that happens in the fall that draws tens of thousands of people, there are hundreds of bands and artists and djs. It’s just a great time. It’s a not-for-profit and you can check out all of the programs we run on our website (http://www.musicisart.org). We do some pretty cool stuff, I’ve got a great group of people that work with me in Buffalo.

Thanks Robby!

And as if all that weren’t enough, Robby also runs his own record label in Buffalo - Good Charamel Records. You can expect to see more GCR coverage on EAH with upcoming releases from Shonen Knife and Pinky Doodle Poodle.

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We all discovered at a very young age that this is what we were meant to do with our lives.” If you don’t know anything about Buffalo’s Head North, know this, they absolutely believe in their music. Though many bands possess this quality, few highlight it early on. Right away, this was a breath of fresh air.

Head North’s new EP, Scrapbook Minds, might have been recorded in Buffalo, but its sound echoes far beyond Upstate NY. The throaty, pop-laced vocals remind me of everything that is great about the new pop-punk scene bubbling up from the underground. Standout tracks on the EP are “Endeavors” and “Tremors”, prime examples that these guys know how to put their songs together. I’d also like to give a shout out to “Brooklyn’s Burning”, a lamenting serenade dedicated to the borough that continues to spawn inspiration. Every band needs a great acoustic tune (or two), and this one fills out the EP perfectly.

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Hopefully between this EP and Head North’s extensive touring schedule, they will find themselves on some of today’s best punk rock festivals and tours, getting more exposure and growing their audience. For example, they would fit right in at The Fest in Gainesville, FL. If that’s your scene, or even if it’s not, get into this record. - Brendan

Connor, Riley, and Toby McDonough - also known as Florida-based pop trio Before You Exit - have just released the video for their latest single, “Dangerous”.

Before You Exit has been getting plenty attention of late from the likes of MTV, Radio Disney, and Teen Vogue - just to name a few - and are gaining more and more traction every day.

Catch the McDonoughs on The Dangerous Tour - with support from Plug In Stereo, Macy Kate, and Spencer Sutherland - through the end of the month.